I voted “yes” to House Bill No. 10261, which is identical to Senate Bill No. 2408, because I fully support the extension of the registration of voters beyond the COMELEC-fixed deadline of September 30, 2021. The extension is made more crucial and critical because the continuing registration of voters was stalled by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic even as R.A. No. 8189 on continuing registration of voters validly subsists.
Consequently, I would like to emphasize the following points:
It may not be necessary to enact House Bill No. 10261 because an existing law, Republic Act No. 8189 or “The Voter’s Registration Act of 1996”, mandates, under Section 8 thereof, the COMELEC to conduct the continuing registration of voters up to January 9, 2022 or one hundred twenty (120) days before the May 9, 2022 elections. Incidentally, I am the principal author of R.A. No. 8189.
The Supreme Court in Kabataan Party List vs. COMELEC (G.R. No. 189868), which was promulgated on December 15, 2009, upheld the continuing registration of voters under R.A. 8189 for the May 10, 2010 elections, and its dispositive portion reads: “COMELEC is directed to proceed with dispatch in reopening the registration of voters and holding the same until January 9, 2010.”
It will be recalled that Kabataan Party List vs. COMELEC, was on the implementation of the continuing voter’s registration in connection with the implementation of the system of automated elections under R.A. No. 8436 and the use of the biometric process in the registration of voters, which are akin to the May 9, 2022 elections. Verily, the automated elections and biometrics process do not deter the continuing registration of voters.
If House Bill No. 10261 and Senate Bill No. 2408 are enacted into law, the continuing registration of voters for the May 9, 2022 elections will be shortened from January 9, 2022 to sometime in November, 2021, thereby depriving potential qualified Filipino registrants a total of about 60 days more within which to register.
Had I been allowed to introduce an amendment as I reserved in open plenary to House Bill No. 10261, as substituted, I would have proposed that the projected Act is without prejudice to the implementation of Sec. 8 of R.A. No. 8189 on the system of continuing registration of voters.
I would like to underscore that since House Bill No. 10261 is only for the fixing of the last day of registration of voters for the May 9, 2022 national and local elections, Section 8 of R.A. No. 8189 will still apply to subsequent elections.
I reiterate my affirmative vote with the foregoing views.